Angela Davis on Abortion Rights in Context

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In February, Angela Davis spoke at the University of Kansas to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the protest by the campus group February Sisters that advocated for no-cost daycare, a women’s health and other facilities for women.  (For more on that history, see here.)

Ms. Davis recalled that in 1971, she was in jail in Marin County, California, when she was asked to write a statement in support of a reproductive rights rally in San Francisco:

I was asked to write a statement that very specifically engaged with the issue of abortion rights.  Of course, I was in favor of women’s abortion rights, but I did not want to take women’s abortion rights out of the context of the broader conglomeration of issues that constitute women’s reproductive rights.

At that time, we had learned that vast numbers of Native American women had been sterilized.  We’d also learned about the extent to which Puerto Rican women were used as guinea pigs by pharmaceutical companies in the production of what was then the new birth control pill. So, I wrote a statement in which I tried to make connections between women’s reproductive rights and women’s right to be free from forced sterilization. The statement wasn’t read.

My position was, I cannot talk about abortion rights in isolation from these other issues.  I’ve come to understand that when we talk about feminist epistemologies, we speak precisely about the ability to think, together, about things that often do not cohabit the same analytical space.

For more coverage, see the People’s World article, here.

-Bridget Crawford

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